2005-05-26 / Women's

Famous Women In History Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker
(June 3, 1906 - April 12, 1975)
Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 - April 12, 1975)

(June 3, 1906 - April 12, 1975)

Occupation: Entertainer

Also known as: Freda Josephine McDonald

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she later took the name Baker from her second husband, Willie Baker, whom she married at age 15. Surviving the 1917 riots in East St. Louis, Illinois, where the family was living, Josephine Baker ran away a few years later at age thirteen and began dancing in vaudeville and on Broadway. In 1925, Baker went to Paris where, after the jazz revue La Revue Nègre failed, her comic ability and jazz dancing drew the attention of a director of the Folies Bergère. In 1951 in the United States, Josephine Baker was refused service at the famous Stork Club in New York City. Yelling at columnist Walter Winchell, another patron of the club, for not coming to her assistance, she was accused by Winchell of communist and fascist sympathies. Never as popular in the US as in Europe, she found herself fighting the rumors begun by Winchell as well. Baker responded by crusading for racial equality, refusing to entertain in any club or theater that was not integrated, and thereby breaking the color bar at many establishments. In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1975, Josephine Baker’s Carnegie Hall comeback performance was a success, as was her subsequent Paris performance. But two days after her last Paris performance, she died of a stroke. (www.women.about.com.)

Return to top

Copyright© 2000 - 2014
Canarsie Courier Publications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved